Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • This post is dedicated to all those Traveling Mamas, from the past and present, that have traveled to settle North America. This post was originally published Thanksgiving 2008.

    The United States has long been a haven for those fleeing political or religious persecution. It is a well-known fact that Native Americans lived in North America long before settlers from Spain, England, France, and all those from the East came to explore, conquer, and live. But today, our country (and this Continent) is a mixture of ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. We are so fortunate to live in a place where we can be ourselves, where we can go where we want, where we can dream of the family trips we’ll someday experience.

    I sometimes travel alone to places, without a family member or a friend. It can be scary to many people, being alone in an unfamiliar place.

    When I traveled to Missouri a few weeks ago, my plane landed around midnight in Kansas City. People rushed off the plane, oblivious to those around them, anxious to get to baggage claim. I walked along, just like everyone else, until the automatic doors opened and a cold biting wind hit me. There was an older Black woman wrapped with a bed sheet around her head. She wore house slippers and held her hands out as if begging.

    People walked past her as if she wasn’t there.

    I stopped to see what she needed, but all she could do was make an unintelligible sound, tears in her tortured eyes as she looked at me. There was a lanyard hanging around her neck with a card she showed to me.

    “Hi, my name is XXXX. I am a refugee from Somalia. My destination is Kansas City, Missouri. If there is a problem, please call this number XXXXXXXX.”

    No wonder I couldn’t understand her. She was speaking in another language. I called the number listed and was told that someone should be there to pick her up. I motioned to her asking if she had luggage, but all she had was the plastic shopping bag in her hand. I settled her in the waiting area while I retrieved my own bag and thought of the bravery of this Traveling Mama, leaving her country with just the clothing on her back.

    As I grabbed my bag and turned around, I watched two young boys run to the woman and embraced her. Apparently they were her sons that she had blindly sent ahead to a different country to escape the violence and poverty of where they lived, hoping that she would one day see them again. The tears streamed down their faces as they just sat there, embracing. It touched my heart.

    The experience made me think of my life and how fortunate my family is. I am thankful to be born in a country where today my children can be raised without fear of where our next meal will come from and where violence is not part of a typical day. What are you thankful for? Be sure to check out TweetsGiving.org.

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  • Women can’t do anything from water.org on Vimeo.
    When we travel with our families, we don’t give a second thought about handing a drink of water to our children when they are thirsty. Airports provide drinking fountains for those of us who don’t want to purchase water and most airlines provide water free of charge. Did you ever think what your life would be like if we didn’t have clean drinking water? Only 100 years ago New York and other major cities in the US experienced Cholera epidemics and disease due to unsafe drinking water. It isn’t really that long ago if you think about it. The most recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed more than 600 people. Can you even begin to imagine having no clean water for your family to drink?

    Mothers in Guatemala at rural school (c) Shannon Hurst Lane TravelingMamas.com

    When I traveled on the Tweetup4Good Cruise with my friend Nancy Schretter, we visited rural communities and orphanages in Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. In Guatemala, one of the schools we visited had dirt floors, holes in the walls, and no running water that I could see.

    On the other side of the world, mothers are traveling mamas, not for pleasure trips like us, but for long journeys to collect drinking water for their families and children to survive the day. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use. This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.

    Water.org water bottlesHow can we help? Give the gift of Hope in a Bottle or donate to Water.org as a gift that helps others.

    When you treat your family and friends to a Water.org, CamelBak bottle, you’ll also be giving a life-changing gift to someone in need.

    • The bottles are a limited edition design, environmentally friendly and great holiday gifts.
    • And 100% of the profits go directly to support nearly a billion people in the world who lack clean water.

    Give just one bottle and you help a child get clean, safe water. Give more and you change even more lives – forever. The need has never been greater and you can make a real difference simply by shopping now.

    Matt Damon co-found of Water.orgWater.org has provided TravelingMamas.com with one water bottle to give away to one reader. The winner will also be sent a thank you note signed personally by Matt Damon. Because we believe in projects like Water.org, TravelingMamas.com has made a “One Life” donation, which will provide water for life for one person through the Water.org initiative. We’d like to encourage you to add a limited edition water bottle or donation to Water.org to your holiday wish list. To find out more information and to place an order, visit Water.org.

    How to enter: This is a social media contest, meaning only readers with Facebook or Twitter accounts are eligible to enter. You can enter two ways –

    On Facebook: LIKE Water.org on Facebook and share this post with your friends. Be sure to leave a comment here for this entry to count.

    On Twitter: Follow @Water and tweet this post. Be sure to leave your tweet as a comment for the entry to count.

    Contest is open to US residents 18 years of age and older. Entries close at 11:59PM CST on December 8, 2010. One entry per day per email address via each route. Comments will be rescued from SPAM. Current and former contributors of TravelingMamas.com not eligible to enter. Prize and product information provided by Water.org.

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  • Is your family looking for a place to get away from it all and still enjoy family time with their children? Do you want vacation where you can enjoy the beach, stay active and enjoy local attractions?

    Ocean Isle Inn on Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina has been named one of the Top Atlantic Coastal Destinations.  Children love it.  Families love it.  The location is great and the property keeps calling guests back again and again. 

    “Ocean Isle is the way beaches use to be. Uncrowded, Unhurried, and Unforgettable. All this and more await you at the Ocean Isle Inn. Ideally situated a short distance from the historic riverfront town of Wilmington, North Carolina, Southport NC, Holden Beach NC, Sunset Beach NC, and North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach South Carolina, the Ocean Isle Inn provides the perfect accommodations for a vacationer, business traveler, family reunion or wedding.”

    Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

    Ocean Isle Inn is a beautiful ocean front property on the quiet Southern beaches of North Carolina.  Enjoy the quiet of the beaches where you can get away from it all.  Yet,  you can drive an hour to the trendy and popular Myrtle Beaches of South Carolina where wonderful restaurants, shopping and local activities abound.

    Enjoy the local attractions:

    1)  Ocean front beaches for families;

    2)  Ten minutes from the wonders of South Carolina like  Myrtle Beach and famous Callabash Seafood;

    3) Ingram Planetarium – where the Stars Always Shine!

    4) Museum of Coastal Carolina

    Enjoy this view each morning – after a complimentary breakfast and gourmet coffee, step out poolside and enjoy the ocean views.  When it’s breezy or it rains, take in the indoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi!  Life is good in North Carolina.

    Are you ready to get away from it all?  Take your children on a vacation they will always remember! Book your trip to Ocean Isle Inn today!  Ocean Isle Inn is offering Traveling Mamas Readers a 15% Discount if you Book with the Discount Code: CarolinaMama. Book your trip and enjoy the anticipation until you experience the pure delight of the ocean at Ocean Isle Inn.

    *CarolinaMama is an Ocean Isle Inn Ambassador.

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  • Shore excursions for families can be difficult to choose. Many excursions have minimum age limits and may not be condicive to families with varying abilities. We browsed the many shore excursion choices while planning our Freeport, Grand Bahama Island port stop while on a family cruise aboard the Carnival Fantasy. One option that caught our eye was the Freeport Kayak and Nature Experience as it included everything we wanted in an experience – adventure, nature, swimming, beach, lunch, and lessons in geology and natural history. The pricing for this tour begins at $100 per person and is not suitable for younger children due to the activity and length of the tour (6 hours).

    It begins with a 20 minute bus ride to the tour company’s base area at Port Lucaya where passengers are divided into smaller groups of 6-8. The small groups depart in vans for another 30 minute narrated ride that introduces the group to the history of the area and a bit of what will be included during the experience. There is a last minute restroom break before arriving at the kayak launch point. I highly suggest all members of the party take advantage of this stop.

    Start of Freeport Kayak and Nature Experience Shore Excursion

    Kayak through Mangroves – Lather on the sunscreen before loading your gear into the waterproof bags provided by the tour company. Be sure to have a bottle of water handy for your trip which last about 1.5 hours. The kayaks are open cockpit and seat two. Don’t worry if this is your first kayak experience as the waters are very calm on this tour. We did go through a few narrow areas and no one turned over their kayaks or had any major issues. My husband made the comment that if a honeymooning couple can survive a two person kayak experience, then their marriage can survive anything. My daughter and husband shared a kayak while my son and I were in another. Fortunately, my son and I managed to supress the urge to throw each other out of the vessel, even though we both wanted to control the kayak!

    Mangroves at Lucayan National Park

    Beach Break for Lunch – After the kayak portion of the experience, we pulled ourselves across the creek Tom Sawyer style on a wooden, rope-pulled ferry (which the kids enjoyed). It was a short walk through a pathway that led to a gorgeous beach called Gold Rock Beach. Gold Rock Beach is part of Lucayan National Park and both Disney productions of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End used this beach for filming. Lunch was picnic style sandwiches but my kids were more worried about running down to the beach and playing in the water. There were less than 10 people on this stunning stretch of sand and I’ll admit that I hurried to finish my own lunch so that I could get into the water myself. We had a little over an hour in the water, giving the kids plenty of time to make sand turtles and relax in the water.

    Gold Rock Beach at Lucayan National Park, Bahamas

    Nature Tour – Our beach time ended and headed back into the wooded area to observe the natural plants and local birds. We saw an iguana and stopped near the mangroves to feed the fish. The water was so clear that we could identify the various types of fish that inhabit the creek area. Our guide, Ben, was super-knowlegeable and entertaining. He gave us a history of the island and incorporated it into our walk. I don’t think the kids even realized they were being educated because they enjoyed the experience.

    Learning about nature while on a cruise vacation

    Natural Geology – An exciting part of our experience included sea cave exploration. Lucayan National Park is home to one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world and is also one of the most environmentally distinct. We first went into Ben’s Cave, which is the largest of the caves in this system. Our guide, Ben Rose, is a cave diver and also whom the cave is named after.We did spent longer than planned at this cave to watch two divers descend into the water but we also learned about the blind Remipedia (discovered in the late1970s but have been around for millions of years). Plus, seeing all the bats hanging around was cool. The next cave was Burial Mound Cave, named because of the skeletal remains of indigenous Lucayans found on the floor area in a second chamber of this cave. It was a relaxing end to a long day of exploring.

    A diver preparing to dive a sea cave

    Our ride back to the Carnival Fantasy was quiet as all of us were wiped out from the sun and fun. Fortunately, guide/driver Ben stayed alert and we arrived at the port with a bit of time left to shop and enjoy the local brew – Sands Beer.

    If You Go – Remember that there is a minimum age limit and this is an all day tour. Take advantage of that last-minte restroom break and be sure to bring along a big bottle of water. The tour information states that closed-toe shoes are recommended. I wore tennis shoes and wish I would’ve worn sandals. You’ll want to bring a beach towel, sunscreen, and even bug spray along.

    Budget Alternative – Not everyone can afford a $100 tour per person in their party or there may be little ones who can’t go on this tour. This experience was well worth the price, but an affordable option is to rent a car and bring along a picnic lunch to Gold Rock Beach. The Lollipop Road offers their experience on this affordable travel option, along with tips to help you plan the best time to visit.

    Disclaimer: This experience was provided courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines.

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  • This teen essay contest came into the TravelingMamas.com inbox and because we believe travel is education, we just had to share!

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    Global Leadership Adventures, which offers life-changing international community service trips for teens, is offering a FREE trip to Costa Rica for ONE deserving high school student this summer. The winner will venture on the all-expense paid 10-day Tropical Ecology & Service program from August 14 to 23, 2010 – a $2,500 value!

    Here’s a link to official contest rules.

    GLA’s goal is to provide life-changing experiences that will cultivate a global perspective and open-mindedness in students that will ultimately inspire them to become great leaders and global thinkers who will seek positive change in their own communities.

    The 10-day Costa Rica trip includes volunteering at a non-profit nature reserve, zip-lining through the rainforest, whitewater rafting, hiking to hidden waterfalls and much more.

    Read more details about this program. Meals, lodging and airfare from Houston, Texas to Liberia, Costa Rica will all be paid.

    High school students ages 14 to 18 are eligible to enter. Students must answer the following essay question for the chance to win: Tell us how you’ve shown leadership in your community? And, how would performing community service in an international setting help you further develop your leadership skills on a local and global level?

    Responses must be no more than 500 words. E-mail responses to contest@experiencegla.com. All responses must be received by June 25, 2010, 12:00 a.m. PDT to be eligible for the contest.

    Contest Rules:

    * No purchase necessary.

    * Prize is not redeemable for cash or anything else.

    * Prize not transferable to other programs or program dates.

    * Students are responsible for travel to Houston, Texas.

    * Contest ends June 25, 2010, 12:00 a.m. PDT.

    * Winner will be contacted via e-mail on Friday, July 2, 2010.

    * Employees or family members of employees of Terra Education are not eligible.

    * Only one submission per student.

    * Anyone submitting more than one entry will be disqualified.

    * Global Leadership Adventures is not responsible for any issues that arise that prevent winner from claiming the prize.

    * In the event the winner is unable to claim the prize, the second place essay will receive the prize.

    Be sure to share this with a teen you know and encourage them to enter this contest – they just might win!

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